Photo Direct Action Briefing. The iconic A&M records and this particular vinyl helped define the hip Latin '60s sound.
Back in the day (a term that is too subjective), the late ‘80s to be exact, vinyl records began submitting to a sorrowful irrelevance in a transmuting music industry and soon found themselves standing meekly aside as the newly heralded CD arrogantly marched through audioland like a German soldier goosestepping through Paris; their only use relegated to DJ scratching. Even that faded away fairly quickly as hip-hop musical styles changed.
We all adapted as the digital music paradigm unfolded through the decades and CDs went the way of vinyl and MP3 files and streaming bullied their way into our ears.
But during the last few years, Mr. Vinyl has made a comeback. Apparently, its swan song wasn’t in 1989. And its reemergence comes mostly at the unlikely hands of the younger generations. Huh?
Yeah, you’re scratching your head, unless you’re a millennial or a phygital.
Seems they have fallen under the spell of the classic scratch of the needle and groove.
“It’s funny that CDs are going away and vinyl records are coming back…And I don’t understand that; their (millennials) attention span as short as it is…you’d think with all of the technology,” said Jeff Grossman, frontman, and guitarist for the Red Dirt country band Saints Eleven (www.saintseleven.com)
from Fort Worth, Texas, leaving the sentiment dangling.
Why are millennials or phygitals interested in vinyl now as opposed to the other mediums? Seems the answer is multifaceted.
“I think vinyl is superior to all the other formats for two reasons,” explained Josh Dolin of Vinyl Loves Unite (www.vinylloversunite.com). “One, it just sounds better... period. If you have a decent turntable and needle, you're going to be listening to fully lossless analog music. If the artist recorded analog, then you're listening the way it was intended to be heard. Secondly, who doesn't love checking out the artwork and liner notes from a record?”
One cannot argue that album artwork and the art of liner note-writing is rapidly vanishing. The liner-note heydays were the ‘60s. Read the notes written on the back of most ‘60s album covers and you’ll see the art in the words. It was a sub-genre unto itself.
“Having that physical presence of an album in a format that's big enough to house awesome art and info to read is enough for me to justify buying the record over CD's, cassettes or MP3's,” Dolin said.
Millennial Angel Flores associates sentimentality with the vinyl record.
“I think vinyl appeals to millennials because of the attachment to their ‘times.’ Vinyls are considered vintage and in this day and age everyone is about it,” he said.
Flores, who is the vocalist for Albuquerque, N.M. band Painting Promises (www.paintingpromises.bandcamp.com), believes it is the ultimate in nostalgia that seeks to connect the listener to past experiences.
Forbes reported that a survey done for eBay showed that “52 percent of consumers prefer physical formats and it is 18 to 24- year-olds who are actually powering the resurgence.”
Ironically, Grossman, a Gen Xer, doesn’t quite share the same affection for the round, grooved discs.
“Honestly, I tried to get back into vinyl…you put the record on, go do something, five songs later, you gotta to go back to it, flip it over. It’s inconvenient. It’s cool I guess.”
Will vinyl supplant the digital music file? Dolin doesn’t think it will. He sees it as more of a complement to the digital realm, an additional audio experience.
“There will always be a place for all formats. Cassette tapes are great for making mixes for friends, and I think millennials will soon start resurrecting the old mixtape phenomenon,” he said. “CD's were great for their small size, and MP3's can't be beaten for the quick access to the music online and obviously for their convenience. But vinyl is just simply special ... it was the first format and there's a reason it's been around for over a century.”
And whether you love it or not bands are including vinyl as a part of their music availability options.
“Now, more than ever, artists are resorting to putting out records on vinyl because I feel they too understand the aesthetic value of it and how much more different people value the music,” Flores commented.
Vinyl also gives a record continuity. If you listen to all of those albums played on FM radio during the ‘70s, they were produced for a full-album listening experience, not one-off singles or a recording plagued with filler.
“That’s why we make a complete album is for the vinyl records. All three of our albums are on vinyl,” Grossman remarked.
And what is the most requested vinyl on Vinyl Lovers Unite site?
“Surprisingly, or maybe not to some people, the most requested artist is The Beatles,” Dolin said.
Some things never die…